49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

January 3, 2013
Snap judgments: A look at 49ers playing time in 2012


Here are some observations, thoughts about the 49ers' snap count information this year.

* Last year the 49ers' defense was on the field for 1,014 snaps. This year, that number was 1,057. That difference is roughly an additional game's worth of plays, another reason why the bye week was so valuable to a 49ers defense that seemed to flag a bit - at least in Weeks 15 and 16 - toward the end of the season. What accounts for all the additional snaps? The 49ers played two, nearly full-time overtime sessions against the Rams and were on the field for a boggling 92 snaps against the Patriots.

* Running back Frank Gore, who declined at the end of last season, actually played more snaps this year than last, 728 vs. 687. However, he's carried the ball less - 258 carries to 282 last year - and said he feels fresher than a year ago. "I feel a lot better. I feel great," Gore said. "I've got to thank (strength and conditioning coach) coach (Mark) Uyeyama, the training room., just for keeping me healthy. The coaches watching me during the week at practice. And I feel great. I'm ready for the postseason."

* Colin Kaepernick ended up playing more snaps than Alex Smith - 525 vs. 484 - despite playing one fewer complete game. How is that possible? Kaepernick, of course, got a few WildKap plays early in the season and was the quarterback during both overtime periods.

* The 2011 rookie class - Aldon Smith, Chris Culliver, Kendall Hunter, at al. - played a whopping 2,451 snaps last year. This year's class: 350 snaps. The leader of that group wasn't even drafted. Tight end Garrett Celek had 184 total plays, 103 of them on offense.

* Remember when Jim Harbaugh said he had five No. 1 wideouts in Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham, Randy Moss, Ted Ginn and Kyle Williams? Well, the division of labor among the team's wideouts went like this:

1. Crabtree: 674 offensive snaps
2. Moss: 406
3. Manningham: 362
4. Williams: 246
5. Ginn: 64
6. A.J. Jenkins: 35

Moss has been averaging 37 plays a game since Kyle Williams was lost for the season Nov. 25. He was averaging 20 snaps until that point.

* Remember all the hand-wringing about 6-8 Alex Boone, a lifetime offensive tackle, moving to guard? He played every offensive snap this season and was the 49ers' least penalized offensive lineman. Pro Bowler Mike Iupati, by contrast, was the most penalized member of the 49ers. He was flagged nine times, mostly for false starts and holding. The 49ers tied for the seventh-most penalties - with the Raiders. Both teams had 107 on the season.

* An indication of how much the 49ers were in nickel coverage this year: Starting nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga played 362 snaps while nickel cornerback Chris Culliver played 775 snaps. Sopoaga's snaps further were eaten away by Ricky Jean Francois, who played 360 snaps this year, albeit the last two and half games at defensive end. "Dime" cornerback Perrish Cox played 273 defensive plays. ... Also, last year, Sopoaga had 42 snaps on offense. This year: 0. He and Jean Francois are soon-to-be free agents.

* Last year's special teams iron man was C.J. Spillman. This year, backup safety Darcel McBath was in on a team-high 307 snaps.

* Brandon Jacobs had 12 total snaps. By my calculation, his gripe-to-snap ratio was 517 to 1.

- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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